Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The Ages of Purim

Tonight begins the celebration of the Jewish holiday of Purim.

Like so many Jewish holidays, it is an inconvenient fit for liberal clergy and parishioners who insist that Jewish values consist of social justice.

There is no peace process conducted with Haman, the chief villain of the Purim story. No one tries to understand his point of view or figure out how much bowing he will accept in exchange for calling off the genocide.

Instead he and his fellow conspirators must die.

Purim is a reminder that real Jewish values are not a suicide pact or a soppy tale of moral ambiguity and bleeding heart empathy for genocidal monsters.

Jewish holidays mark historical events by testifying to a G-d of history who is less concerned with feelings and tolerance, than with justice and truth.

Mordechai, like most Jewish Biblical figures, makes for a terrible progressive role model. He doesn't compromise. Even after Haman has passed his decree, he still won't bow to him. He causes the crisis and resolves it by being uncompromising.

Purim began when he refused to bow to the Grand Vizier of a multicultural empire. Jewish leaders hurriedly reassured him that this fanatic was in no way representative of their values. Hadn't they attended the feast where the sacred vessels of their own people were used to serve spirits to the mob? Rather than anticipating the return to their land at the end of the prophesied period of exile, they had cheered the brutish tyrant and made Sushan, his capital, into their new holy city.

The illusion of history is that every age brings with it the end of history, a new age whose awesome achievements break with the past and usher in a boundless future. And then the walls come crashing down and the new era of history ends up buried under the rubble of time.

History never ends. That is the lesson of the Holocaust, of Purim and of countless other horrifying intrusions of the old into the new. The shining new era that begins with grand public spectacles and displays of the power and might of an empire, ends with corpses and men and women fighting and running for their lives.

The Jewish people, break down into Jews and New Age Jews.

The Jews wandered a meandering course through history using ancient maps and concerning themselves with a past that modern people dismissed as myth and legend. The New Age Jews saw a new era of history that made all those old moldy beliefs completely irrelevant. History had ended and a new age had begun. How could they be expected to take a few fairy tales retold by barbarians seriously? Such things weren't for enlightened people who were witnessing the end of history.

The old Jews know what the New Age Jews do not, that history has not ended, that the past is still with us and that it has sharp teeth. They know that Man has not changed, that his sophistication is still only a shell and that sooner or later the shell cracks. If it does not crack from within, then it is cracked from without. While the New Age Jews sneer at the Holocaust obsession, Jews know that the past in all its awful terrors is a map and that forgetting it carries a terrible price.

Those who feel time in their bones know the patterns of history and can never lose themselves in one age or fall into the fallacy of a new era. They know that there is nothing new under the sun. Machines may come and go, but the world is a broken place because the hearts of men have not turned from their ways. And so they remember that every age carries within it the seeds of its ruin. They witness the ruin, climb out of the rubble and move on.

Liberal pieties embrace the new age, fixate on a final transformative era of history at the hands of messiahs who promise to make the world into a better place. Clergy who preach the cant of Tikkun Olam cannot meaningfully cope with that history. Their tattered scraps of philosophy that they mistake for a religion has no room in it for the bloody-minded men who stride through history without saving the whales.

Purim, a holiday preceded by a fast kept by the men going into battle and their loved ones, is not about progressive. It is about survival. Not mere survival, but the skin of the teeth sense of how close we came, that moment of revelation which pulls back the curtains of the material world and reminds us of the impossibility of our survival under all the ordinary rules of the world that new ages are founded on. It reminds us that behind the  brick and mortar of the material world is a force that breaks apart history, that saves us when we should have died, that has entrusted us with a mission. It reminds us of what the world is and reminds us of Itself and of what we are.

When you stand on the edge of death, life is a revelation. It is not our deaths under the Egyptian sun, the blades and bullets of a thousand empires and kingdoms, or the ovens of Dachau that we are obsessed with. It is that moment of survival. The revelation that even amid the horrors of all that we have witnessed and the terrible things that we had to do to survive, we have risen out of the ground, watched the flesh cover our bones and stood alive again upon the earth. Every time we survive, we are reminded of the fragility of the material world and of our enemies who wielding every power and trick, have failed to destroy us. Each time we rise, we transcend the world, in confronting our dead, we confront our immortality.

It is not a purely joyous experience. The day of Purim is preceded by a day of fasting. Before the celebration comes a day of battle as the struggle to survive, the long decline into the abyss, the final desperate hours, suddenly give way to the upheaval of an impossible salvation. We remember the pain, the sense of the grave closing over us, the bodies lying everywhere, the certainty that we will be next.

We accept the hopelessness of our situation and then we walk out of the grave and praising G-d, sit down to the feast.

This is Jewish history. It is an alien one to the New Age Jew who clings tightly to the new era and its rules, to its pieties and its mores, who scowls at the old ones for refusing to come and join the imperial festivities where the vessels of the temple are used to serve drinks and the mob toasts that the seventy years have come and gone, and still there is no chance of the Jews returning to their Jerusalem and reclaiming the lost history.

"The past is the past," says the New Age Jew. "The past is the present is the future," says the Jew.

The feast of the New Age is the celebration of the end of history, a golden time with an unlimited bounty for all, where the wine and the free health care will never run out, where everyone will live together under one government in perfect brotherhood for all time. Many Jews are drawn to this feast, its golden vessels, its vast bounty and its glorious ideals. But then the Grand Vizier begins to speak and some of them grow uneasy for though he speaks soothing words, they sense that he is a monster.

They don't always know how they know it, but the nagging feeling creeps into them that there is something rotten at the heart of this new age.

Most of them still bow to him, touching their heads to the floor, some even celebrate his vision. They assure others that he is our friend, the only man who can realize the promise of this age, a wise and noble leader whose vision of change brings new hope. But one or two stay away from the feast and refuse to bow to him. Instead they look to Jerusalem, to where the battle between good and evil was once fought, and where it will be fought again. They know him for what he is.

The Grand Vizier knows that he must destroy them, must destroy them all, because they have seen through what he is, and through the shallow trappings of the golden age of fools. They know that there is more to the world than the might of men and the cornucopias of kings. They know that he is not all-powerful and when he looks at them, a scowl wrinkles his face, because now he knows it too.

So he casts a lot, random chance in a random world where chance is supreme and the whim of every ruler outweighs the weight of history. The bills are signed, the laws are passed, the decrees go out, the officers from the vast imperial bureaucracy are assigned to inform every citizen that their new age will be inaugurated with blood. A people who are not a proper part of the multicultural empire of laws must be wiped out in a properly democratic fashion.

Crowdsourced genocide.

And then the Grand Vizier ends up dangling from a rope, the tanks break through to Berlin, the chariots fall into the sea, the mustachioed dictator dies in a bedroom outside Moscow his clothes soaked in his own urine-- and everything has gone completely wrong.

It's an old story and a new story. We tell it over and over again because it is always happening. It is our story and the story of the world. It is the story we have accepted from our parents and it is the story that we will pass on to our children. It is the story of the blood sacrifice of the New Age that goes wrong. The sacrifice survives, bloodied and scarred, while the New Age goes down to ruin.

Once again we are the sacrifice to be slaughtered on the altar of peace with the Muslim world, of an  age of global government and the brotherhood of man for which only a few million people need to die. The knife is sharpened, the Grand Vizier and his aides smile, and the time is almost here. But it is not here yet. Now we sit down to hear the Megillah and remember how the story always ends.


Naomi Litvin said...

Another masterpiece by Daniel Greenfield. Thank you!

Avi Lion said...

Simply breathtaking.

Purim sameach, dear bro'

Leah said...

You truly are master at understanding the truth. Purim Sameach and may the majority Jews wake.up to this truth.

Stuart Kaufman said...

Daniel, this is the best, most powerful article of its kind that I have ever read. It skewers the Reform Movement, the throne sniffing Jews and the Grand Vizier in Washington with such eloquence that it caused me pain for my inability to rival it. Congratulations on writing the definitive commentary on Purim and it's importance.

Sandylion said...

The reason they survive is because they are the people of El Elyon, the Most High God who is sovereign over the affairs of mankind.

Isaiah 54

1 Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.
2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;
3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.
4 Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.
5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
6 For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.
7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
9 For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.
10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.
12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.
13 And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
14 In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.
15 Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.
16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.
17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Tiffany Ambriz said...

You always put so well into words, the thoughts of my heart. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Great article. It's important to note that there are populist movements in Europe that seek to stop the Islamization of Europe, and the New Age Jews that you reference are some of the most vocal and active opponents of those groups.

Traditional Jews should try to reach out to those groups and form alliances with them, rather than distancing themselves.

Drow Ranger said...

Obama is just as ignorant about the real meaning of Purim then and now, having proven he has little more than a third grader's understanding of foreign policy.

Kids, this is what happens when leftist feel-good "Conflict Resolution" used in primary and secondary schools becomes the default for those in office.

Cheri said...

This article is just exceptionally inspirational and I thank you for sharing it. What is mind-bending is that the G-d of human history promotes His purposes through humans who are devoted to Him. At the same time, He perpetuates a memorial for all generations to be witnesses to those people who were uncompromising in their devotion to Him.

In the end, however, He is the ultimate shining "hero" and "star," in the midst of our tragic history on this planet. If He were not our portion, who would be worthy enough to sacrifice for? Who would be worthy of our utter devotion? Who would be worthy to live for? There is no one else. Blessed be His Name.

Deserttrek said...

I am never let down ... and always elevated ... thank you

JewishOdysseus said...

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Mr. Greenfield, for this profound masterpiece! So timely this week, as we witnessed these throne-sniffing New Age Jews dishonor themselves by attacking a non-bowing Bibi, in disgusting service to an arrogant, deranged Jew-hating Maximum Leader.

Let us pray Bibi can maintain his determination, and we witness the reversal of fortunes we see every Purim.

Common 'tater said...

Thank you for reminding us that God did not make a clock, wind it up, and then just let it run. I try to avoid doling out the clichés and sounding overly "religious." However, I think there is ample evidence through history that indeed, there is someone out there that makes sure there is a someone or lots of them down here when needed.

Actually, Mordechai did take the time to figure out Haman's point of view. It probably sounded a lot like Boris Badenov's "Keel Moose." Instead it was "Keel Juice," followed by "and I'll get that little princess, too!" By the way, Haman did not end up on the end of a rope, for those that are not familiar with the ancient Persians. He ended up sitting on a sharp pointed stick, but I will spare you all the rest of the details. What is really important is that when the time was right, as has been true so many times in history, God had someone where needed.

Just as then, it appears that the Jewish people are in the line of fire and there are many lining up to destroy, loot, and otherwise attempt to erase Jews from the past, present, and future. History shows that the Jews are still here, and the so-called conquerors from Babylon on to the Third Reich are gone.

I would urge all that care and that have a stake in the outcome of this conflict to look beyond what we mere humans can do.

careyrowland said...

Thank you, Daniel, for putting this out there for all the world to see. It explains a lot.

zvi said...

beautiful - aleh vehtzlach

Anonymous said...

It was wonderful that the Jewish Nation was worthy of giving the message that this is the last chance we can stand up as civilized nations against Jihadists. If we do not either Jihadists win or we fracture into militias. Better militias and warlords than defeat but the world still can do better. But for how long?

Even so Netanyahu is a secular messenger. I hope one day soon the Jewish Nation is able to give the true religious message it has been entrusted with.

Anonymous said...

As always, my heart turns over in thanksgiving for what G-d gives you to give to us. I will share this with many.
- BarbaCat

mindRider said...

Your message is always powerful but it shall never reach the elitists in a manner to change their bias, a fact I was noticing again after the following.
I had an email debate with one of the foremost authors (age ±40) in The Netherlands on a column he had written in a leading newspaper. His background is Jewish son of a holocaust survivor. His article was stating that he thought Netanyahu to be a scare monger as Pakistan was also in possession of nuclear weapons and they had not used them hence an Iranian bomb would be similar. I pointed out to him that Pakistan did have abject terrorist groups within it's borders but did not have a state policy of threatening even India, it's arch-enemy with annihilation or for that matter with a nuclear attack over Kashmir. The immediate response I got was an accusation of Islamofobia and further this highly intelligent author negated all argumentation of mine why Israel should not neglect the Iranian threat. I even came with the example of Hitlers Germany to which his only answer was that today was no 1930 Germany. The agnostic liberal left is lost, no argument however valid can reach their soul or their brain anymore.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your article, as well as this blog.

But - as an "organized religion skeptic" - all around here (2015), I really do not know what to do, what to say, nor how to act. At age 64. Sad.
I love history though, which is why I liked your article etc. there. Educational.

Yours truly,

Gary Rosen said...

"... the bloody-minded men who stride through history without saving the whales."

Absolutely brilliant, but only one of many piercing passages in this great essay. Thank you, Daniel.

jansuzanne said...

Jews may want to forget history, but history will not let them... today they don't have to be victims with the existence of Israel.

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